Civic volunteers can’t be deployed for law enforcement: West Bengal Police | Kolkata - Hindustan Times
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Civic volunteers can’t be deployed for law enforcement: West Bengal Police

Mar 27, 2023 09:15 AM IST

A March 24 order said civic volunteers will assist police deployed to manage traffic, tackle illegal parking, manage crowds during festivals, and ensure public safety

Civic volunteers cannot be deployed for law enforcement, the West Bengal Police directorate has said citing a March 21 direction from the Calcutta high court for clear guidelines from the government over the duties they can perform.

There are over 70,000 such volunteers. (Twitter)
There are over 70,000 such volunteers. (Twitter)

The court gave the direction while hearing a case pertaining to a missing person whose family alleged policemen and two civic volunteers picked him up in 2022. It came amid a series of allegations against civic volunteers, whom opposition parties have called “cadres” of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC).

There are over 70,000 such volunteers, who get a monthly salary of 9000.

In its March 24 order, the directorate said civic volunteers will assist police units deployed to manage traffic, tackle illegal parking, manage crowds during festivals, and ensure public safety. HT has seen a copy of the order.

A police officer said many civic volunteers have been arrested in recent years. “The [previous] Left Front government started the scheme but the number of volunteers was fewer then. ...the TMC government began deploying them at police stations across Bengal.”

The volunteers came under the spotlight after the death of former student leader Anis Khan in February 2022 in Howrah. Khan’s family alleged civic police volunteers threw him off the roof of their home after coming there at midnight on the pretext of questioning him.

A Special Investigation Team of the West Bengal police concluded in July last year that Khan died of a fall as he was sought to be questioned illegally. Two civic police volunteers were among those charged over the death.

TMC leaders refused to comment on the directorate’s order saying it is an administrative matter.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Samik Bhattacharya called the volunteers “an army TMC has raised” using tax-payers money for dirty work. “Anis Khan’s death is an example. Civic volunteers have been accused of extorting money from truckers and shopkeepers, intimidating opposition party workers, and helping TMC during elections. The court has given a directive. But will it be enforced?”

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